2022 was a rough year in a string of *rough* years for the world. It was a year of war, toxic politics, COVID still lingering, and whatever the heck Elon Musk has been up to recently. But amidst all the garbage, there were a few things that made 2022 a bit more bearable. Some of them I’ve written about already, but I wanted to highlight some of the things I missed. So in no particular order, my favorite random things of 2022 include…
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
I’ve been a Kirby fan since Kirby’s Adventure back on the original NES, but I fell off the franchise for a while as I got older. The games are always fun, but they felt increasingly rinse-and-repeat with each successive entry. Enter Kirby and the Forgotten Land, the pink puff’s first foray into 3D gaming (only about 25 years too late, but still!),l Post-apocalyptic worlds might be played out these days, but Kirby’s take on the setting is lush, charming, and oddly beautiful. I recently ran though the entire game on my Let’s Play channel; whether I was scouring the ruins of a shopping mall or nailing some of the Elden Ring-esque postgame bosses, it was always a treat.
A Bunch of Awesome Bands Dropped New Albums This Year
Maybe I’m just old, but popular music feels dismal nowadays. Every song feels like a different variation on the same obnoxious trap beat, meant to be synced to some awful dance video on TikTok or whatever. Fortunately, a lot of bands and artists I’ve loved for decades have dropped new albums just this year. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who wrote the soundtrack to my college years, came out of a decade-long hiatus with Cool It Down. Swedish country-folk duo First Aid Kit released Palomino, which may be their best work yet. And prog rockers Coheed and Cambria continued their sci-fi epic with A Window of the Waking Mind. Of course, the big hit of 2022 was Beyoncé’s excellent 90’s house throwback Renaissance, but there were also some incredible comebacks from artists buried just under the mainstream.
I’ve been in a dry spell with anime lately. A lot of new shows haven’t grabbed my attention, and even returning series have fallen off for me. But I adored Lycoris Recoil, a sleeper hit that took over the Wholesome Yuri subreddit this year. It’s a love letter to action thrillers like James Bond and John Wick, only the spies are (of course) anime high school girls. The chemistry between the tsundere Takina and the deredere Chisato is what makes this series: one minute they’ll be thwarting a terrorist invasion, and the next they’ll be making a poop cake together (?!). The story does get a bit rushed by the end, with a bit too many last-minute dramatic reveals. But the characters, visuals, music, and action were still more than enough to make Lycoris one of my favorite anime of 2022.
RRR (Rise, Roar, Revolt)
Indian cinema is a rich tapestry of art and culture, but most Americans were ignorant of the medium until recently. That includes me, btw: I didn’t even know the difference between Bollywood (Hindi-language films produced in Mumbai) and Tollywood (Telugu-language films produced in Hyperabad). But when RRR dropped in 2022, it broke through the cultural barrier as the best action movie in a decade. It’s a three-hour epic drama about two historical figures, Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem, who fight together to overthrow British imperialism. Although the film is loaded with historical inaccuracies (Raju and Bheem never met in real life, and I’m pretty sure they couldn’t fly), it makes sense since their characters are based on the ancient epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. RRR is a modern classic, a giant middle finger to racism, and a better action flick than anything Marvel has done, besides maybe Black Panther. (I haven’t seen Wakanda Forever yet – otherwise that may have been on here too lol)
Chuggaconroy’s Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Let’s Play
You thought I was done talking about Xenoblade? You fool! I will never be done talking about Xenoblade! Chuggaconroy (real name Emile) has been making Let’s Plays since the halcyon days of YouTube, and he’s part of the reason I discovered my favorite JRPG series. He always plays games to 100% completion, so a monster game like Xenoblade 2 took a full two years to finish. His commentary is delightful and he loves to bring up random trivia or hidden Easter eggs. Plus, he supports trans rights! The modern gaming scene can be full of toxicity and console fanboyism, but folks like Chuggaconroy are proof that “gamers” can be good people too.